Defeat should have happened before now, really. With 2003's 'St. Anger', it was clear that Metallica were running out of ideas for new material, and their ninth studio album, 'Death Magnetic', only cements that fact; even employing the production services of Rick Rubin can't stop these songs from sounding jaded and formulaic.
And even ardent fans have to admit that it's been a long time since the Los Angeles metal gods released a collection of songs that were of a high enough standard to be deemed an acceptable 'album'. The truth is that the once-seminal Metallica have spent the past decade living off a legacy forged in the '80s - although their recent Dublin gig admittedly proved that they're still capable of unleashing their back catalogue with a degree of venom.
The influence of Rubin, a producer famed for working with 'classic' artists, is virtually non-existent here, too. There's little variation in tempo, tone or theme on 'Death Magnetic', with the vast majority of tracks attesting to the band's usual frantic, chunky, stately heavy-guitar riffs and obligatory, unnecessarily elongated solos.
The Day That Never Comes, The Judas Kiss and The End of the Line are all culprits - predictable, chugging numbers with James Hetfield's voice sounding as strained as it's ever been - although lead single Cyanide's swirling void does pique interest, and The Unforgiven 3 is easily the most compelling track here, its piano/strings/trumpet intro reminiscent of their S&M collaborative album.
Perhaps Metallica feel that they don't need to try anymore, or that their legacy as one-time innovators enables them a free pass through the rest of their career. Aside from the occasionally passable tracks that are seemingly written for the sole purpose of allowing 'grown-ups' to headbang, though, there's absolutely nothing magnetic about this album whatsoever. A disappointing attempt at recapturing former glories, it just doesn't work. Still, better than St. Anger, which is something, at least.